Whitefish council considers $38.7 million budget

A public hearing on Whitefish’s proposed $38.7 million budget tops the City Council agenda tonight.

The budget is about $12.6 million less than last year’s budget, largely due to the completion of the City Hall and parking structure projects. A property tax mill-levy increase of 8.24 mills is proposed. The mill value is projected to increase to $23.743 per mill in the coming fiscal year.

The mill levy increase is in response to a reduction in resort-tax relief of 6.24 mills. Property owners last year received a one-time windfall when only one debt payment had to be made in 2016 for the Haskill Basin conservation easement, according to Finance Director Dana Smith.

The city began collecting a 3 percent resort tax in July 2015 — a 1 percent increase from 2 percent — to cover the cost of the easement. Because the city had only one bond payment in fiscal year 2016, the city rebated to property taxes an additional $319,485.

Whitefish will add the equivalent of 3.2 more employees over the coming year, boosting the workforce from 99.6 to 102.8 full-time equivalent employees. City employees, including those belonging to the three unions serving city personnel, will receive a 4.5 percent pay increase. Last year city workers got a 3.8 percent raise.